UN Releases MDG 2014 Progress Chart: SS Africa Poor Performer Across Goals & Indicators

11 Sep

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s 2014 the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) report is stark in its assessment. While lack of data, especially civil registration systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), is used as convenient excuse to make proper conclusion, the report makes it clear that, for instance, on Goal 1 relating to the Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, is unlikely to meet the target by 2015.

The report speaks of hunger continuing to decline. In comparison with other regions, ” sub-Saharan Africa has shown limited progress in recent years, remaining the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment.” In addition, despite a modest reduction in the prevalence of underweight children since 1990 across regions, “Sub-Saharan Africa was the only region where the number of undernourished children increased, from an estimated 27 million to 32 million, between 1990 and 2012. Oceania has demonstrated the least progress of all regions.”


The greatest improvement in SSA is under Goal 2, the achievement of universal primary education. The report notes, “the adjusted net [school] enrolment rate increased by 18 percentage points between 2000 and 2012.”

Nevertheless, the report cautions that this is no dance time in SSA, since the region faces a big challenge in the form of rapid population growth. For instance, compared to 2000, there were 35 per cent more school children to accommodate in 2012. It also lamented the fate of 33 million children of primary school age who were not in school, of which 56 per cent were girls, due to armed conflicts in some countries.

“…Only three out of five pupils in sub-Saharan Africa, and only one in two pupils in Oceania, were able to complete primary school. Boys were at greater risk than girls of leaving school earlier.” SSA is also home to over half of the world’s out-of-school population, aid to basic education declined by 7 per cent between 2010 and 2011.”

Moreover, in SSA, Oceania and Western Asia, girls still face barriers to entering both primary
and secondary school, according to the report.

MDG 2014 Progress Chart (Credit: UN)

MDG 2014 Progress Chart (Credit: UN)



Much progress has been made in the global rate of under-five mortality, which in 2012 was almost half of its 1990 rate, dropping from 90 to 48 deaths per thousand live births. The estimated number of under-five deaths fell from about 12.6 million to 6.6 million over the same period: about 17,000 fewer children died each day in 2012 than in 1990.

Again, the report states, “All regions, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, have reduced their under-five mortality rate by more than half.”

The secretary-general reports:

    “Sub-Saharan Africa continues to confront a tremendous challenge. Not only does the region have the highest mortality rate in the world for children under age five—more than 16 times the average for developed regions — but it is also the only region where both the number of live births and the under-five population are expected to rise substantially over the next two decades. In 2012, one child in ten in sub-Saharan Africa did not live until their fifth birthday.”

In other words, the report states, nearly half of global under-five deaths in 2012—3.2 million children under age five—occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report points out that there have been notable reductions in the under-five mortality rate since 1990 and particularly since 2000 in some low-income countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia,
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.


We learn from this latest report that globally, the maternal mortality ratio has dropped by 45 per
cent between 1990 and 2013, i.e.e, from 380 to 210 deaths per 100,000 live births. Unfortunately, this good news falls far below the MDG target to reduce maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters.

Most of the maternal deaths in 2013 took place in SSA (62 per cent) and Southern Asia (24 per cent). Also SSA is one of the two regions with has had the lowest rates of deliveries attended by skilled professionals, although attendance has increased by 10 percent since 2000.


Risky behavior is still in need of changes in SSA. As the region most affected by the HIV epidemic, it is only 39 per cent of young men and 28 per cent of young women aged between 15 and 24 who had comprehensive knowledge of HIV.

Although malaria surveillance systems in most high-burden countries are weak, the latest trend analysis did indicate that the world was on track to achieving its MDG malaria target fully. However, only an estimated 36 percent of the population living in malaria-risk areas in SSA were sleeping under an ITN in 2013.


In 2012, the proportion of the world’s population with access to an improved drinking water source was 89 percent, up from 76 per cent in 1990. The target of halving the proportion of people without access to an improved source had already been achieved in 2010, five years ahead of schedule.

It is also noted from the report that over 2.3 billion more people gained access to an improved source of drinking water between 1990 and 2012, out of which there were 1.6 billion people who had gained access to a piped drinking water supply on the premises—the highest level of service, associated with the best health outcomes.

In SSA, where the initial coverage had been low, the proportion of the population with access to an improved drinking water source increased by 16 percentage points between 1990 and 2012, despite significant population growth.

Early on UNICEF reported its estimate that 10 countries that are home to almost two-thirds of the global population are without access to improved drinking water sources. These are: China (108 million); India (99 million); Nigeria (63 million); Ethiopia (43 million); Indonesia (39 million); Democratic Republic of the Congo (37 million); Bangladesh (26 million); United Republic of Tanzania (22 million); Kenya (16 million) and Pakistan (16 million).

In 2012, one billion people still resorted to open defecation, a practice that needs to be brought to an end, as it poses a huge risk to communities that are often poor and vulnerable already. Open defecation is most prevalent in Southern Asia, Oceania and SSA.

The vast majority—82 per cent—of people practicing open defecation now live in middle-income, populous countries, such as India and Nigeria.

UNICEF reports that 36.9 million of Ethiopia’s 38.1 million open defecators live in rural areas.

30 per cent of the world’s youth are digital natives, active online for at least five years. In Ethiopia, the number is embarrassingly low, The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), sees Ethiopia as a country at the bottom of the ICT efforts, along with the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso and Guinea.

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